When MJ DeCoteau launched the charity in 2001, Rethink put young people concerned about and affected by the disease in the spotlight for the very first time, creating a modern and stylish kind of charity. Together, MJ and a group of innovative, energetic, and creative minds looked for ways to   engage with younger generations who were often left in the dark about their potential risks and breast health.

What emerged was a way to communicate with a community of young people living with breast cancer, who had unique needs and challenges that weren’t being met, nor acknowledged, in the current health system. Breast cancer does happen in younger people, and it is often more aggressive, and that propelled Rethink to expand its mission to educate, empower and advocate for this underserved group.

Many who join Rethink’s community seeking support while coping with breast cancer get involved in creating helpful resources for other newly diagnosed people, advancing research or driving policy changes. This collaborative approach ensures the community’s voices and values are firmly at the centre of its work.

“Over the past 20 years, Rethink has continuously evolved from being known for creating buzz and ‘branding a cause’ in order to engage and educate young people to now being known for driving impact, making change and improving breast cancer outcomes,” says founder MJ DeCoteau. “We listen, we learn, we adapt. We’ve increased our focus on the unique needs of living with metastatic disease and most recently, we’ve partnered with others to reach and support historically underserved communities.”

Rethinking Rethink Breast Cancer, Forever Forward
Rethink’s Forever Forward campaign celebrates and showcases its constant progression and reaffirms its goal to continue to push the status quo, even as it is constantly changing. Its evolution over two decades from the “hip, cool” boutique breast cancer charity to one that is using its influence to open doors for others and make system changes that help people with cancer live better and longer became a catalyst for its rebrand.

Rethink Breast Cancer’s Month-long Pop-Up at Stackt Market
Oct. 1 – 13 (12 – 7pm): Rethink’s 20th Anniversary Pop-Up Shop features items from partners in impact who are aligned with their vision for the future, supporting Rethink’s mission work with every sale.

Oct. 14 – 28: Uncovered Gallery: A photo exhibit showcasing breast cancer experiences of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour from the 2021 edition, to increase representation, understanding, and listening. (See more information about Uncovered below.)

Oct. 9: Free In-Person Slow Flow Yoga Class for Members of The Rethink Network at Stackt Market with Tanya Harris, a Black yoga instructor who has had breast cancer.

Oct. 15: Free In-Person Connect & Flow Yoga Class for BI&POC Members of The Rethink Network at Stackt Market with Tanya Harris, a Black yoga instructor who has had breast cancer.

Shop for Rethink: items from partners in impact, supporting Rethink’s mission work with every sale www.rethinkbreastcancer.com.

Oct. 12, 19, 26: 3-episode podcast series featuring Rethink Breast Cancer through The Brand is Female.

Oct. 15, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. EST: Rethink Real Talk Panel: On Being Seen, a discussion on the importance of being seen as Black, Indigenous and People of Colour in the breast cancer space and beyond, through For the Breast of Us #WhenYouSeeUs campaign and Rethink’s Uncovered project (virtual Zoom event).

Oct. 28, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. EST: Rethink Real Talk: Ask an Oncologist (Part 3) with Dr. Brezden-Masley (virtual Zoom event).

Uncovered: A Breast Recognition Project
Recently Rethink has broadened its support and advocacy to focus on health equity, diversity and sustainability, to better represent the community of those who are concerned about and affected by breast cancer. Rethink is committed to helping to empower, uplift and amplify underrepresented Black, Indigenous and People of Colour voices.

In 2020, Michelle Audoin, a young Black woman living in Toronto with metastatic breast cancer (MBC), approached Rethink to collaborate on developing a new resource that would help Black people diagnosed with breast cancer have a better, more inclusive experience than her own. She had felt invisible, unheard and deflated throughout her experience and unrepresented in the breast reconstruction images shown to her. Rethink launched Uncovered: A Breast Recognition Project, a first-of-its-kind resource to shine a much-needed spotlight on the physical and emotional scars of Black women with breast cancer.

Rethink and Michelle collaborated again this year to develop an additional resource to increase representation and understanding of the breast cancer experiences of different cultures and races. The 2021 Uncovered resource includes people from diverse backgrounds including Nigerian, Jamaican, Guyanese, Trinidadian, Bajan, Inuk, Indian, and Filipino. A Black production team photographed and captured the stories and experiences of the participants in both resources.  Link here to learn more.